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    WILLS POINT, TEXAS

    Bluebird Capital of Texas

    Van Zandt County, Central Texas N / East Texas
    Highway 80 and FM 751
    14 miles NW of Canton
    53 miles NW of Tyler
    50 miles E of Dallas

    Population: 3,496 (2000)

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    Wills Point Texas  Bluebird Birdhouse
    The Guest of Honor
    Photo courtesy Melanie Eastep, April 2006

    Wills Point as Bluebird Capital of Texas

    by Ken Rudine

    Bentsen Rio Grande State Park's colorful Green Jay has real competition 565 miles NNE near the south shores of Lake Tawakoni. That bird is the Bluebird which has a sky blue head and back and the breast color of a Robin.

    The presence of the many Bluebirds visiting Van Zandt County to nest had been noted for years. In April 1993 Wills Point hosted the first Bluebird Festival as a general spring celebration in their area of Texas. After the annual Audubon bird count revealed that Wills Point was host to more bluebirds than any other area in Texas for 11 consecutive years, (then) Governor George W. Bush designated Wills Point the "Bluebird Capital of Texas". Our State Legislature followed by declaring Wills Point the Bluebird Capital of Texas on February 7, 1995.

    Now the local farmers and ranchers place Bluebird boxes on area fence posts. If necessary the local Wilderness Society maintains these Bluebird houses throughout the area. The Wills Point Bluebird Festival also includes an Antique Car & Tractor Show, and the Van Zandt County Bake-Off featuring cookies, cakes, pies, and candies. Also a quilt Show and singing contests are held during the celebration.

    The white marker or structure on Commerce Street is the Rose Monument. B. W. Rose's real estate ventures in Dallas had been profitable. A former Wills Point resident and dry goods store owner; he gave this to show his civic appreciation.

    The old train depot has been renovated to serve as the town's Historical Museum.
    Ken Rudine
    History in a Pecan Shell
    It may have first been known as Iola, Texas (but it's Wills Point that's on all the maps). The name Wills Point is said to be after William Wills, the local tax assessor who had settled here in the 1840s. The "point" was the tree line that ended abruptly where the prairie began.

    Wills built a double log cabin and expanded his land holdings. In the mid 1850s Wills took advantage of his location on the Dallas-Shreveport Road and provided lodging for travelers. Prior to the arrival of the railroad, the town had stagecoach service. The Wills Point post office was opened in 1870 and the town was platted in the early 1870s with the arrival of the Texas & Pacific Railroad.

    The town's prosperity reached the point where an election was held (May of 1877) to move the county seat from Canton to Wills Point. The vote was 705 for - and 523 against. To win, Wills Point needed a two-thirds majority and they fell short. Not willing to accept the loss, fraud was declared and violence ensued. The state militia was called in to quell the discontent and prevent bloodshed.

    The White Rose Cemetery was donated by William Wills and by 1896 the town was still prospering - it just wasn't the county seat. The town had an opera house, hotels, cotton gins, schools and a newspaper.

    From a population of 1,000 in the early 1890s, it more than doubled to 2,500 just before the Great Depression. At the beginning of WWII, Wills Point had just under 2,000 people which has slowly increased to the current estimate of 3,500. Wills Point is now known as the Bluebird Capital of Texas.

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    Wills Point Texas  Finis C. Wills Cabin
    Finis C. Wills Cabin is part of the 1936 Texas Centennial project
    Finis C. Wills Cabin
    "A replica of the pioner cabin of Finis C. Wills in whose honor the town of Wills Point was named, was built near the site of the original by the Wednesday Book Club of Wills Point at a cost of approximately $500, of which $200 was allocated by the Commission of Control. The cabin is used as a meeting place by the book club and by various other organizations of the town."
    -
    Image & transcript courtesy Sarah Reveley
    Wills Point Texas  Wills Cabin
    The Wills Cabin today
    Photo courtesy Melanie Eastep, April 2006
    More Texas Then & Now | Texas Centennial
    Wills Point Texas  Depot, Historical Society Museum
    Historical Society Museum
    In the Texas and Pacific Depot on Highway 80 and 5th Street.
    Photo courtesy Melanie Eastep, April 2006
    More Texas Depots | Texas Museums
    Wills Point Texas  Rose Dry Good and Rose Monument

    Rose Dry Goods and Rose Monument on Commerce Street
    Photo courtesy Melanie Eastep, April 2006

    Wills Point Texas  downtown
    A downtown view.
    Photo courtesy Melanie Eastep, April 2006
    Wills Point Texas Majestic Theatre
    The Majestic Theatre "operating since 1923(?)"
    Red brick street downtown

    Photo courtesy Mike Price, October 2007
    More Texas Theatres
    Wills Point Texas  Drug store
    A Hopper-esque view of downtown.
    Photo courtesy Melanie Eastep, April 2006
    Wills Point Texas  Bluebird  Cafe
    On the sign - not on the menu.
    Photo courtesy Melanie Eastep, April 2006
    Wills Point Texas  Bluebird
    Guest of Honor Upclose
    Photo courtesy Melanie Eastep, April 2006
    See Texas Animals
    Wills Point Texas  Bluebird  water tower
    Bluebird Capital of Texas
    A year-round reminder on the water tower.

    Photo courtesy Melanie Eastep, April 2006
    More Texas Water Towers

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